Research In Motion, RBC and Thomson Reuters are to launch the BlackBerry Partners Fund, a â‚¬96 million (US$150 million) venture capital fund, to invest in mobile applications and services for the BlackBerry and other mobile platforms. The Fund is to be co-managed by JLA Ventures and RBC Venture Partners.
Applications that could receive funding include mobile commerce (payments, advertising, retailing and banking), vertical and horizontal enterprise applications, communications, social networking, location-based applications and services (navigation and mapping), media and entertainment, and lifestyle and personal productivity applications.
The timing is interesting - hot on the heels of the Blackberry Bold (see today's AnalystWire), which has, "[tri-band] HSDPA, WiFi, GPS, a new vivid display, extra storage and software upgrades. It is faster, more powerful and very multimedia friendly," according to Ovum, which also reckons it "Bold has the potential to be a worldwide hit".
In other words, it is designed to move the Blackberry way beyond phone calls and messaging, and extend its appeal to consumers, not just business users.
Or as John Albright, Managing Partner of JLA Ventures, who will also assume the role of Co-Managing Partner of the BlackBerry Partners Fund, put it, "Whether it's access to corporate data or the latest craze in mobile entertainment, we want to fund companies that are forerunners in driving adoption and further enriching the mobile experience."
Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, said, "RIM, RBC and Thomson Reuters share the common belief that mobile applications and services will propel the industry forward and the BlackBerry Partners Fund is being formed to help fuel innovation and activity in the mobile ecosystem."